Michael Ballack - Farewell Match

I’ve written all I can on Jose Mourinho’s record at Real Madrid, but it’s already been a bit of a challenge not to use epithets like “slobbering idiots” as I read unchecked comments on the Guardian live blog of his first official Chelsea presser like this one: “He was a complete failure in Madrid and treated everyone inside and outside the dressing room like dirt. Going back to Chelsea is cowardly. On paper he is the most successful manager probably in the last 10 years and yet the biggest institution in world football said no. That says it all.”

Mou treated “everyone like dirt”? Who? A few journalists he took issue with? A few players that were content to make their grievances known to the Spanish tabloids? The Real Madrid fans he took to the precipice of the CL final, and a league title to boot, in the same era as Pep’s Barcelona? Unfortunately, aided perhaps by a few journalists who had been personally burned by the Portuguese manager during his time there, the idea that Mourinho’s ‘failure’ at Real Madrid lingers on.

Jose Mourinho achieved a win percentage at Chelsea of 67% over 185 games. There is no one at the club who managed a similar achievement in so many matches. Ranieri’s over 200 games was 54%. Many managers with far fewer games played couldn’t come near to that achievement.

But the media (and many club presidents) measure their success in whether a manager behaves the way they like, or how many trophies they manage to win over a set number of seasons as a function of how much money they were paid. If you don’t believe me, read the pseudo-psychology passed off as commentary among those watching today’s show and tell. Mourinho seems bored, contrite, humble, his behaviour doesn’t reflect his words.

Is he an insufferable jerk whose words once hounded a referee out of a career? Absolutely. Does this make him a poor manager? Perhaps if your idea of what makes a manager good transcends the actual winning part. Maybe it does. If that’s the case, I’ve got a hundred inspiring, pitch-perfect opening press conferences for you to watch from a hundred actual failures.

The press conference means nothing. Nothing matters until the season is well underway.